Judge Alan A. Vomacka
FY 2009 - 2014, New York Immigration Court
Judge Vomacka was appointed as an Immigration Judge in July 1987. He received a Bachelor
of Arts degree from Yale University in 1970, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of
Houston in 1977. From 1987 to 1993, Judge Vomacka worked as an Immigration Judge in
Harlingen, Texas, then in January 1993, was transferred to New York. From 1977 to 1987, he
was in private practice in Houston, Texas, focusing primarily on immigration law. Judge
Vomacka is a member of the Texas Bar.
Deciding Asylum Cases
Figure 1: Percent of Asylum Matters Denied
Detailed data on Judge Vomacka decisions were examined for the period covering
fiscal years 2009 through the first nine months of 2014. During this period, Judge
Vomacka is recorded as deciding 892 asylum claims on their merits. Of these,
he granted 338, gave no conditional grants, and denied 554.
Converted to percentage terms, Vomacka denied 62.1 percent and granted (including
conditional grants) 37.9 percent. Figure 1 provides a comparison of Judge Vomacka's
denial rate fiscal year-by-year over this recent period.
Compared to Judge Vomacka's denial rate of 62.1 percent, nationally
during this same period, immigration court judges denied 48.5 percent
of asylum claims. In the New York Immigration Court where Judge Vomacka
was based, judges there denied asylum 20.7 percent of the time. See Figure 2.
Figure 2: Comparing Denial Rates (percents)
Judge Vomacka can also be ranked compared to each of the 270 individual immigration judges
serving during this period who rendered at least one hundred decisions in a city's immigration court. If judges were ranked
from 1 to 270 - where 1 represented the highest denial percent and 270
represented the lowest - Judge Vomacka here receives a rank of 119. That is 118
judges denied asylum at higher rates, and 151 denied asylum at the same
rate or less often. Ranks are tallied separately for each immigration court. Should a judge serve on more than one court
during this period, separate ranks would be assigned in any court that the judge rendered at least 100 asylum decisions in.
Why Do Denial Rates Vary Among Judges?
Denial rates reflect in part the differing composition of cases assigned to
different immigration judges. For example, being represented in court and the nationality
of the asylum seeker appear to often impact decision outcome. Decisions also appear to
reflect in part the personal perspective that the judge brings to the bench.
Figure 3: Asylum Seeker Had Representation
If an asylum seeker is not represented by an
attorney, almost all (89%) of them are denied asylum. In contrast, a
significantly higher proportion of represented asylum seekers are successful.
In the case of Judge Vomacka, 8.1% were not
represented by an attorney. See Figure 3. For the nation as a whole,
about 14.6% of asylum seekers are not represented.
Asylum seekers are a
diverse group. Over one hundred different nationalities had at least one hundred
individuals claiming asylum decided during this period. As might be expected,
immigration courts located in different parts of the country tend to have
proportionately larger shares from some countries than from others. And, given
the required legal grounds for a successful asylum claim, asylum seekers
from some nations tend to be more successful than others.
Figure 4: Asylum Decisions by Nationality
For Judge Vomacka, the largest group of asylum seekers appearing before him came
from China. Individuals from this nation made up 44.8 % of his caseload.
Other nationalities in descending order of frequency appearing before Judge Vomacka were:
Nepal (5.3 %), Guinea (3%), India (3%), Albania (2.6%).
See Figure 4.
In the nation as a whole during this same period, major nationalities of asylum
seekers, in descending order of frequency, were China (28.5%), El Salvador (6.8%), Mexico (5.9%), Guatemala (5.7%), Haiti (3.1%), Honduras (2.9%), India (2.7%), Ethiopia (2.5%), Colombia (2.2%), Nepal (2.1%), Indonesia (1.5%), Eritrea (1.5%), Venezuela (1.5%).